In March 2009, Alex Lizzappi, our founder and CEO, and Uchenna Aningo MD were vacationing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic when they decided to travel 12 hours by bus to visit Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Port-au-Prince was still recovering from a major hurricane, and the state of the population was very precarious. Poor national infrastructure, combined with a lack of a consolidated network for goods production and distribution, stood in direct opposition to a very industrious workforce. With knowledge of Haitian history, Alex and Uchenna began to understand the extent of government desertion and population disenfranchisement.
They spent time with locals discussing their observations as well as possibilities to relieve the deeply established poverty. Most proposed solutions were not feasible due to a diffused government and social corruption, both of which produce a constant state of emergency for the majority of the lower class and push them into unemployment and extreme poverty. Because the country’s executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government are dysfunctional, low voter turnout jeopardizes the quality of Haitian democracy and limits the capacity for large-scale change.
When Alex and Uchenna left Port-au-Prince, they had an initial understanding of the Haitian conundrum, and although they had no immediate action plan, they had a strong desire to reach the most desperate and helpless populations in Haiti.